Suburban Woman Calls Recalled Washing Machine a ‘Ticking Time Bomb'

NBC 5 Responds gets her a remedy weeks before the company issued a nationwide recall

The day we met Richelle Byrdy was the same day Samsung recalled nearly 3 million top-loading washing machines. The danger they presented was not news to the Carpentersville woman, as she had been afraid to use her new machine since she got it. When she couldn’t get answers from the appliance maker, she reached out to NBC 5 Responds for help several weeks ago.

"It was a little bit secretive. They didn't want to give you too much info," Byrdy said. “Who knows if you’re the next one or not?”

Byrdy was referring to reports that the washer had been exploding in laundry rooms and garages across the country, sometimes violently, shooting glass and metal across the room. When she called Samsung for help, she only got this advice:

"They said you could use it on the delicate cycle. That was the only one not reported to have a problem," Byrdy said.

Byrdy called NBC 5 Responds because she did not want to join the ranks of homeowners who have already reported nerve-wracking incidents to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, where people likened the explosion to “ a car driving into our house,” and “glass breaking and a huge bang like a bomb went off.” The chairman of the CPSC called the malfunctioning washers potentially life-threatening.

“They're pretty violent. We've had reports on our public database of a woman getting hit in the back from the top blowing off and getting knocked and breaking her jaw,” Chairman Elliot Faye warned. “I'm concerned that someone is going to be near one of these machines when the top blows off and they're going to get killed by it.”

The recalled machines — made between 2011 and 2016 — are already the focus of a proposed class action lawsuit which alleges the machine’s high-speed motor is too powerful, causing the tub to vibrate dramatically, resulting in a centrifugal explosion that destroys the machine and nearby property.

Samsung was embroiled in the Note 7 smartphone debacle when NBC 5 Responds first contacted them about Byrdy’s concerns. The company did not comment specifically, but did reach out to Byrdy, who told us Samsung agreed to refund her in full.

Two weeks later, the company announced the massive recall, saying that affected owners can opt for an in-home repair or a refund, and that safety is its highest priority.

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